Commercial Television Licence (Daily News, Ltd.)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire 12:00 am, 24th November 1960

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now in a position to make a statement regarding his consultations with the Postmaster-General as to the continued holding on a commercial television licence by the Daily News group.

Photo of Mr Woodrow Wyatt Mr Woodrow Wyatt , Bosworth

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now in a position to make a statement regarding his consultations with the Postmaster-General as to the continued holding of a commercial television licence by the Daily News group.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have consulted my right hon. Friend, the Postmaster-General, and understand that the programme contractor for north-east England is not Daily News, Ltd., but Tyne Tees Television, Ltd., and that Daily News, Ltd., is only a minority shareholder. The Independent Television Authority is solely responsible, under the Television Act, for the appointment of programme contractors and for settling any matters arising from the contracts. I am informed, however, by the Authority that the granting of this contract was not made conditional upon Daily News, Ltd., continuing to own newspapers.

Photo of Mr Desmond Donnelly Mr Desmond Donnelly , Pembrokeshire

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, notwithstanding the last part of his Answer, it has been the policy to encourage firms which have associations with newspapers, and that a number of other applications were made for this particular television licence which was granted to Tyne Tees Television, Ltd.? These were applications by newspapers which are still in existence. Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this licence would have been granted if the Daily News had not been a newspaper at that time?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No, Sir. I cannot give that answer without notice. I think that the best thing would be for the hon. Gentleman to put down a Question to my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General.

Photo of Mr Christopher Mayhew Mr Christopher Mayhew , Woolwich East

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, when this licence was granted, a submission was made that the Daily News had a Liberal point of view, and whether this was taken into account?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have said that the granting of this contract was not made conditional on the Daily News continuing to own newspapers. As to the detailed point raised by the hon. Gentleman, I cannot give him an exact answer.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

Surely, the right hon. Gentleman realises that this was in fact a consideration that was taken into account when the licence was awarded and, therefore, the whole of the basis on which the licence was awarded has now been destroyed? This is a very serious matter.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

That may well be so, but the technical position is as I have stated and I cannot take it any further.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Whatever the technical position may be, is it not a fact that Tyne Tees, Ltd. was granted this contract largely because of the Daily News holding in it and because the Daily News represented a Liberal newspaper which it now no longer owns? Is this not a matter that the Government ought to consider more seriously, and will the right hon. Gentleman have further consultations with the Postmaster-General with a view to seeing what can be done?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I am certainly quite ready to have further consultation, but one cannot get away from the fact that when this contract was made this condition was not laid down, which might have been a very good thing.